Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Royal Enfields prefer the slow way there

A road in Sicily, 2009

Is the Royal Enfield motorcycle more "mainstream" in Europe than in the United States?

I agreed with a statement by the U.S. importer, Kevin Mahoney, that it is. Reader Oriste helpfully provided registration figures to show that Royal Enfields are still very much in the minority of motorcycles in Europe. Their numbers are actually amazingly small.

But I wasn't thinking of numbers, when I made my comment that the Royal Enfield is not "mainstream" in the U.S.

I was thinking of how difficult it would be for me to ride any great distance here in Florida without being forced to get on a high-speed road. In my mind's eye, Europe is different. Perhaps because I have only been a tourist in Europe, I have only experienced its lovely little roads, avoiding the highways (I took the train when I was in a hurry).

Even on those lovely little roads, traffic, especially motorcycles, moved fast and I pulled aside often to avoid holding everyone up. But it was nothing like Interstate 75 across the Everglades, where speed limits are never observed and some drivers are on mental autopilot.

I-75 would be terrifying on a Royal Enfield, and I have never attempted it. Too many American roads are like that. To be "mainstream" here means being able to cruise for hours in a row at 75 mph. Even then, you would be the slowest vehicle on the road, continually watching your rear view mirror.

Am I wrong that Europe provides more unhurried venues, where Royal Enfield speeds are common? Where villages come up more often, providing a chance to slow down and cool off?

Maybe I just have not looked hard enough for alternatives to I-75.

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